Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Greek government yesterday presented a last-minute proposal for a two-year agreement with the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) so as to fully cover its financing needs, combined with debt restructuring. "From the first we made clear that the decision to call a referendum was not the end but the continuation of a negotiation seeking better terms for the Greek people," an announcement from the office of the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said, adding that the Greek government will strive for a viable agreement within the euro up to the very end. The PM’s appeal however was rejected by eurozone finance ministers, hours before the existing bailout package expired at midnight.

A Eurogroup teleconference has been scheduled for today to discuss the state of play with Greece. Originally set to take place at 12:30 (Athens time), it has now been postponed until 18:30, at the request of several ministers, tweeted by Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s spokesman.

Greece missed a €1.5 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund due last night, meaning the country goes into arrears and will only be able to receive further financing when these are cleared.

The official site - with the latest news and useful information about the July 5th referendum – is online as of yesterday.

The site, available in Greek and English, is managed by the Secretariat General of Communication, and visitors will find useful information about how and where they vote (Where I Vote), the reasons for holding the Referendum (Why a Referendum), referendums in other EU - countries (They also Did it) and an Infographics section, which illustrates the social impact of the bailout agreements in 2010-2104 and explains the capital control system, currently implemented in Greece.

Finally, a special section (Zappeion Press Center) is intended to facilitate international and Greek media representatives, along with foreign correspondents, wishing to cover the event at the Press Centre at Zappeion Hall.

Are you a Greek company blocked by capital controls? Zerofund, a platform of mentors from Greece and abroad, has taken the initiative to stand by Greek companies unable to pay servers, domains, hosting fees and other such costs, on account of the capital controls currently in force.

Zerofund was founded by active startupers in 2013 as a collective effort of Greek and American entrepreneurs, focused on dealing with the problems faced by startups in Greece - namely funding, networking, and logistics. It is part social network and part funding /participation bridge to the United States’ acceleration program, MindTheBridge.

The UN Independent Experts on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, and on human rights and international solidarity, Virginia Dandan, welcomed the holding of a referendum in Greece to decide by democratic process the path to follow to solve the Greek economic crisis without deterioration in the human rights situation.

In an announcement yesterday, the two experts underline that "Foreign debt is no excuse to derogate from or violate human rights or to cause retrogression in contravention of (…) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. "(…)

They also add that “it is the moment for the international community to demonstrate solidarity with the people  of Greece, to respect their democratic will as expressed in a referendum, to proactively help them out of this financial crisis, which finds a major cause in the financial meltdown of 2007-08, for which Greece bears no responsibility. Indeed, democracy means self-determination, and self-determination often calls for referenda – also in Greece."

Arguing that no side bears sole blame for the current mess, The Guardian in its editorial of June 30, underlines that the idea of a common European currency was built on a logical flaw, i.e., a monetary union without fiscal and political union. Making matters worse, the euro area was run on an unsustainable economic system, i.e., Germany exporting disproportionately more to southern Europe and the rest of the world, while southern Europe relied on cheap credit, making this a totally unviable arrangement.

Moreover, creditors prescribed Greece a programme that not only failed to make the debt sustainable, but it recreated a poverty long forgotten by Western Europe. “Unless a last minute compromise is found between Greece and its creditors, the only thing that can be hoped for is serious damage limitation”, the editorial argues, and “Europe must stare into this abyss to prevent itself from falling in… Whatever the result of the Greek referendum, Europe must not be allowed to self-destruct,” it concludes.

In Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated, (The Independent, July 1), the paper’s deputy business editor Ben Chu argues that the fact Greece officially found itself in “arrears” is not only humiliating for the country, but for the International Monetary Fund as well. “The Greek default is a culmination of a catastrophic chain of misjudgments by the Washington-based Fund, stretching all the way back to May 2010, when it was called in by the Eurozone authorities to participate in a financial rescue for Greece.”